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There is some qualified good news on the horizon: COVID cases in states first hit by Omicron are finally peaking. (They are still at record numbers, however, which is why hospitals are still filled.) So are you safe where you are? And how can you ensure you stay your safest? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on This Week with host Martha Raddatz. Read on for 6 life-saving tips—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Says Cases Will Ultimately Go in the Right Direction, Despite More "Pain"
COVID cases are finally going down in places like New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Dr. Fauci recently said most states will reach their peak by mid-February. He is still as "confident as you can be, you never want to be over confident when you're dealing with this virus, because it has certainly surprised us in the past," he said. "But if you look at the patterns that we've seen in South Africa and the UK and in Israel, and…in the Northeastern New England and Upper Midwest states, they've peaked and started to come down rather sharply. There are still some states in the Southern states and Western states that continue to go up. But if the trend that we're seeing in other places, such as the Northeast, I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country, since it's a large country and a great deal of variation in the degree of vaccinations that we have in one region compared to another, ultimately they're all gonna go in the same direction. There may be a bit more pain in suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters. But we do know—recent data that have come out from the CDC that even with Omicron, boosting makes a major, major difference in protecting you from hospitalization and severe outcomes. So things are looking good. We don't wanna get over confident, but they'll look like they're going in the right direction right now."
Dr. Fauci Says Here's What the Year May Look Like, Best and Worst Case
"The long term strategy we hope…is that we will get to the point, particularly now with the turnaround of Omicron, which fundamentally looks like it is on a case by case basis, less severe the sense of causing severe disease. It's by no means exempt from making people sick and putting them into the hospital, particularly those who are not vaccinated. However, what we would hope that as we get into the next weeks to month or so, we'll see throughout the entire country, the level of infection get to below what I call that area of control. And there's a big bracket of control control means you're not eliminating it. You're not eradicating it, but it gets down to such a low level that it's essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with. I mean, we would like them not to be present, but they're there, but they don't disrupt society, they don't create a fear of severe outcomes that are broad. You will always get some severe outcomes with respiratory infections, even in a good pre-COVID era. You've always had that. We'd like it to get down to that level where it doesn't disrupt us in the sense of getting back to a degree of normality. That's the best case scenario. We've gotta be prepared for the worst case scenario. I'm not saying it's gonna happen, but we have to be prepared, which is…another variant that has characteristics that would be problematic, like a hard degree of transmissibility or a hard degree of variants."
Dr. Fauci Says Here's How to Stay Safe
"The more people that we get vaccinated, the more people we get boosted, the supplies of therapies which are gonna be really important in preventing people from progressing to advanced disease—we're stocking up on that. Getting many, many more tests"—the government is shipping "a half a billion tests coming out now and another half a billion very soon thereafter. If we have those things in place, vaccine testing, masks therapy, we could keep it at that low level. That would be the best case scenario."
Dr. Fauci Says This About a Fourth Booster
Some folks who got their booster will be reaching the six month mark in about a month. Should they get a fourth shot? "We don't know," said Dr. Fauci, "because we don't know the durability of protection from the third shot boost of an mRNA and the second shot boost of a J&J. Certainly you are going to see the antibody levels go down. That's natural, but there's an element of the immune response … where even though you do see a demotion of antibody levels, it is quite conceivable—and I hope it's true—that the third shot boost will give a much greater durability of protection. We're following that very carefully. When I say protection," he added, "I mean protection against severe disease. You were going to see breakthrough infections as we've seen now, even in boosted people, but for the very most part they're mild or even asymptomatic. That's where we would like to be, is to have that where you don't have to get more and more always every six months with a booster, we may need to boost again, that's entirely conceivable, but before we make that decision about yet again, another boost we want to determine clearly what the durability of protection is of that regular boost."
Dr. Fauci Says This About Keeping Kids Safe
Some schools are removing mask mandates "The CDC strongly recommends that when you're in a situation in the school, we want to get the children back to school," said Dr. Fauci. "And the way you do that, you do it by multiple things that you do. You surround the children with people who are vaccinated for the children who are eligible to be vaccinated, get them vaccinated and provide in the school school masks, where you can have children protected as well as ventilation to make sure that you can get a respiratory infection at its lowest level of infectivity. All of those things go together and masking is a part of that."
How to Prevent Severe Illness Now
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.